Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

TK1 Telescope & Astronomy Kit

TK1 Telescope & Astronomy Kit

Fall 2015 Toys
Ages: 12 & Up
Manufacturer: Thames & Kosmos
Price: $169.95

It helps to think of this more as a science kit about astronomy, rather than just a telescope. Designed to help engage kids about the stars as much as it's designed to make stars easier to see, the manual includes clear information about how telescopes work (why the image is always reversed), how to put the telescope together, and how to use it, with specific things to look for. The book guides users in focusing the telescope on something here on earth, in light, suggesting it best to get "the feel of it" before going out at dark. It covers other basics, like constellations, why astronomers use red light, and how to care for the telescope (lens covers!).

This telescope is made for kids, has a lightweight aluminum tripod, and very clear optics. The tripod is shorter than what adults would prefer, making it much easier for kids to look through they eye piece without touching it. The magnification is perfect for moon gazing: it fills the viewer perfectly, and the moon is easy to sight in the sky. Of course, the moon moves, and the earth moves, so you have to get the moon in your site ... and about 10 minutes later, move the telescope slightly to get it back in the site. This took us some practice, but after about 5 times, we had mastered the process.

We took the telescope out to a full moon viewing party at an observatory, where there were several high-end telescopes set up, and about 500 people. Even in the dark, our 11 year old quickly got to the point where he could adjust the telescope every 5 minutes to keep the moon in the sight. Quickly, our telescope became one of the favorites at the location because it was easy for kids to reach the eye piece, and because everyone was able to easily focus it and see the craters on the moon with great clarity.

This kit is a gratifying gateway to a more powerful telescope and the wonders of astronomy.

Barbara Chamberlin   ©2015 Parents' Choice
Barbara Chamberlin researches and develops educational software and media at New Mexico State University's Learning Games Lab. She and her husband have two boys.

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